Portrait: Cranio

Posted on January 18, 2018

The Street-Artists that are included within the Capturing Creativity project, are from all around the world: the Netherlands, Belgium, England, America, Sweden and so on. After having the honor to meet and talk to Cranio, Brazil is represented in a more than nice way. I did speak to him about his thoughts on creativitity. Before that, it is first time for a fine introduction of this wonderful person.

Fabio de Oliveira Parnaiba, better known as Cranio, is born in 1982 and has grown up in Sao Paulo. His artist name is actually his childhood nickname he got while he was in school. He was the smartest kid in his class, so the other kids named him Cranio, someone with a big brain. Cranio means Skull in Portuguese and Brazilian. He began his art journey in 1998 by writing his name on the walls, influenced by graffiti from other artists he saw around the city, like Os Gemeos. It did not take long until he started drawing characters that gave a bit of humor to the grayness of the concrete walls. He’s a self-taught artist, who learned everything he knows about the art on the streets. Over the years, his technique and context, which are essential for his work, have improved drastically, without affecting the sharpness of the style he’s known for.

It was luck that he was born in Sao Paolo, a city with a very strong culture of graffiti and a capital of the graffiti world today, according to many art critics. Cranio’s work is a mix of street art and fine art, where he depicts his own life, everything he sees, hears, or lives through. There is a lot going on in the world today – a lot of good, but a lot of bad as well. Cranio takes great pleasure in criticizing everything he defines as ‘wrong’.  He has been improving his techniques, innovating in the context, but without losing the style he is known for.

His mediums are acrylic on canvas and spray paint on walls, but he likes to mix them up a little, so some of his artworks are combined with photography, or spray paint on canvases. The trademark of his work, the blue Indian, is the result of his search for a a character that could show the indigenous people from Brazil. With their typical blue appearance and distinctive shape, the indians finds themselves always in funny and curious situations. This provokes the viewer, in the role of the observer to think about contemporary issues like consumerism, corrupt politicians and the environment. As a British collector describes: “Cranio has developed an unique and significant group of characters who are not only vibrating, but also please to be seen. Furthermore, the images created by him always pass a message of important concepts we often forget in our lives. These set of qualities is what makes his art excellent to appreciate and great to think and philosophize about.

All of his characters are reminiscent of Brazil, whether they are wearing a sports jersey or carrying a Brazilian flag. This does not mean that his works are Brasil-specific: the themes Cranio explores are universal. Inspired by the life around him, he tackles the issues of political corruption, environmental disasters, or the ever-present and never-stronger consumerism. His themes are dark indeed, but instead of depicting the things exactly as they are, he rather includes the elements of humor, making them easily digestible without giving up on the significance or the power of the messages that the artworks are sending. While being heavily influenced by cartoons and the work of Salvador Dali, Cranio always carries a lot creativity and good humor in his backpack.

When I ask Cranio his definition of creativity, he answers:

“Creativity for me is conserving the good things from the past, and present them while criticising the bad things from the present!”

Credits photography: © Henk Warrink